When I set the challenge for myself to get through Jane Eyre in a Week, I didn't think it would take over my blog for the past seven days, but I also didn't realize what a blog-worthy book I was embarking on. Also, I can think of no better book with which to conclude Jane Eyre Week than Juliet Gael's Romancing Miss Brontë. I read this book last month - yes, before reading Jane Eyre - and I was captivated by the story.
I suppose it's a slightly off-kilter order of operations to read a novel about Charlotte Brontë before reading her most famous work, but I think knowing a little about the author's life and family gave me an added appreciation of the story created in Jane Eyre. It was delightful to realize the parallels between Charlotte and her fictional heroine, and I think the correlations are intriguing regardless of whether Gael's work is encountered before or after Brontë's. I'd definitely recommend this book to fans of Jane Eyre as well as those looking to learn more about the Brontë family or anyone who enjoys stories set in the 1800's.
Assuming the pen names Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, the three sisters encourage each other in literary pursuits and all succeed in publishing novels but keep their endeavors hidden from family and friends. As tragedy repeatedly strikes the family, the novel takes a tearful turn but is slightly brightened by the courtship between Charlotte and her father's curate Arthur Bell Nichols.
I really enjoyed this book. Though I previously knew very little about the lives of the Brontë sisters, Gael stayed close to fact. The everyday scenes and conversations that she wove for the now-famous authors were entirely believable and worked to transpose the reader into Charlotte's life. I certainly would have preferred a happier story, but the true joy of Brontë's life was in the legacy of literature that she left for future generations.